Why 49ers' Banks has impressed Shanahan in second season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA — After only playing a handful of offensive snaps in his rookie season, Aaron Banks is showing why the 49ers felt the need to select the lineman in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Banks spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area during the bye week and shared that staying focused on the task at hand has been his goal. When asked about the arrival of Christian McCaffrey to the backfield, the offensive guard stayed true to his process.
“Honestly, I don’t even know who is behind me half the time,” Banks said. “I’m just trying to do my job to the best of my ability, so it doesn’t matter who is back there. I just block my guy and do whatever my job is."
There were high expectations for Banks in his debut NFL season, but injuries kept him sidelined during his first offseason and stunted his transition. Now thoroughly entrenched next to Trent Williams at left guard, coach Kyle Shanahan has been pleased with Banks’ development.
“He is a good player,” Shanahan said on Monday. “He’s worked real hard. I'd say he put in as much work as anyone on our team this offseason. Just from when the season ended to when the season started, it seemed like there was no difference from him, I’d see him out my window every day.”
Banks’ diligence has shown up on the field. The left guard has played nearly every snap of the 49ers’ past nine games and has not allowed a quarterback sack, per PFF. His 12 pressures allowed is second highest on the team, but they have all been hurries (no sacks or hits).
Not allowing a sack after facing the likes of Los Angeles Rams All-Pro pass rusher Aaron Donald twice already this season is notable. Banks shared his thought process on facing some of the best in the league.
“You know you’re blocking a good guy,” Banks said. “You know you’re blocking Aaron Donald, but if you sit there thinking about him, you’re giving him more power. You’re giving power to him. You don’t really need to.
“He bleeds just like everyone else. Not taking anything away from him; he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, dude is legit. When you play against him, you do notice he’s different than others, but that’s just how I approach it. Try to keep it nameless, faceless."
Shanahan cited Banks’ consistent reps in games as a reason he has been able to improve. The 49ers' coach also sees the recent arrival of the lineman’s first child contributing to his maturity as a person, which has also been reflected in games.
“His weaknesses, he doesn't try to avoid them,” Shanahan said. “He really tries to work at and get those better, and he has got a lot of strengths. When he has got into these games, I think he hasn't gotten overwhelmed and because of that, because of the work he's put in. I've been real happy with Aaron.”